Any Value In Daily Getaways For Eco-Tourists?

Longtime miles & points junkies will be familiar with the annual US Daily Getaways Program.  In the golden days, it was once possible to leverage cheap Wyndham Rewards points to cheap airline miles and I must admit to taking full advantage in years past.  That all came to a halt last year when Wyndham devalued their transfer ratio and the Daily Getaways put up their price.

This year the promo will run 23 March to 24 April and the first 3 weeks have already been posted.  Since there is no longer any value in airline transfers unless you just need a couple 1000 as a top up, the best reason to buy these points is to use them for hotels.  I know all the miles/points/travel blogs will be covering the best deals in a general sense so I will only address the best deals specifically for eco-tourists who want to use points to stay cheaply some place within a day trip of a good bird watching location.

In all of the examples below, you need to determine if it represents a good value to you.  You need to check if the chain hotel is where you really want to be or would you prefer to just pay for a night in a non-chain hotel.  For myself, I have decided that I will not pay money to stay in chain hotels but I will stay in them if I get an extremely good deal from a credit card.  The only credit cards I deem useful to me are the IHG Rewards & Club Carlson Visa.  I have no interest in any other hotel chain credit cards.

Daily Getaways 1

Daily Getaways Week 1

 

WEEK 1

3 major chains have points on offer, – IHG, Club Carlson & Hilton

IHG does have some good properties in places like Accra, Ghana (day trip to Shai Hills, my review coming soon), Tahiti (between hops to Rimatara & the Marquesas), Panama (day trip to Soberania NP) & Puerto Rico (day trip to El Yunque).  Historically these points won’t sell out quickly as you can buy IHG Rewards using the book & cancel method.

Club Carlson also has a property in Puerto Rico and Panama suitable as above.  I also used the Radisson Blu to good advantage for a day trip to Birds of Eden, Tahiti on a layover and a pre-flight stay in San Jose, Costa Rica.  These points will go moderately fast as they are very useful to anyone who has the Club Carlson Visa card and gets a free night for at least one night booked on points.

The Hilton packages don’t seem to be that great of a value and I don’t see them selling out.  While we did enjoy our stay in Mauritius last year which cost 80,000 points for 2 nights, there is no way I would have spent $500 to purchase 100,000 points for those 2 nights.  We got those points by doing social media games which are no longer running for free.  If we hadn’t had the points, we would have used Pointshound to book something cheap and earn miles.

Daily Getaways 2

Daily Getaways Week 2

 

WEEK 2

Nothing here to interest eco-tourists.  The Choice points on Friday are excellent value when used in Europe but that’s out of scope for this blog.  Here is a good example of a blogger who is making excellent use of this promo for his trip to Europe.  Last year, we used 10,000 Choice Rewards to stay in Venice at a hotel that would have cost over $300!  They are the only thing I see going fast so if you want some you will have to be ready to go right at 1:00 pm ET.  (US time zone as in New York if you need a converter).

Daily Getaways 3

Daily Getaways Week 3

WEEK 3

Once again, nothing of interest to eco-tourists.  The Hyatt packages will go extremely fast because people who want to stay in luxury hotels will snap them up but Hyatt doesn’t have any properties in places that also have good birding.

WHAT AM I DOING?

Sitting out this year!  Since I am a good advance planner, I have already determined that I have enough hotel points for our needs for the next 3 years.  Most of our stays will be at independent properties, I just like them much better and I like having more choice.  Nothing worse than being stuck in a bad location because that’s where your points hotel is!

So Sad About Daily Getaways

In past years, it was a ritual.  The hotel point packages went on sale 1pm East Coast USA time which meant I had to be up before 3am in Brisbane.  One year, we were on holiday in Rarotonga and I had to traipse down to reception where the internet was at some ridiculous hour 4 or 5am.  Competition was fierce and the best packages went within seconds!  My target was always Wyndham points which I would quickly transfer to either United, US Airways or American depending on my needs.  It was exasperating but fun to try to get the timing right to snag at least one package or maybe 2 if I was using the 2 browser method.  Then I would go on the Flyertalk thread and join the other in bragging about my successes……………..or commiserating about not being fast enough.

What a difference a devaluation makes!   While a few point packages have still been selling well such as Hyatt and Choice (the latter probably for Southwest Companion passes), the previously hot Wyndham packages are going begging.  IHG are also not selling, probably because of the lackluster Pointbreaks (Disa-Pointbreaks as I call them).  If anyone is interested, plenty of points up for grabs but unless you have worked out a good use for them, save your money and book hotels via Pointshound or Rocketmiles and earn your miles that way!

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Daily Getaways First 2 Weeks Announced

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In the past, Daily Getaways were one of my favourite ways to buy airline miles at very cheap prices.  Back in the day, you could acquire United, American, US Airways & other miles for around $7-8 per block of 1000 miles by purchasing Wyndham miles at Daily Getaways and then transferring them.

Last year the price was raised to around $13 per block of 1000 miles which still wasn’t bad if you live outside the USA and can’t manufacture spend. Earlier this year, Wyndham cut the transfer rate to airlines in half without warning which basically kills this deal as no one is going to pay $27 for 1000 miles unless they are desperate for a top up.  And most people can do a helluva lot better than a Super 8 if they have a budget of $84!

This year there isn’t much to interest eco-tourists.  I wouldn’t buy points for a hotel, I would rather use a portal such as Pointshound and have a wider choice.  Here are the first 2 weeks in case anyone is interested.  The only possible bargain I can see is Choice ONLY if you are going to use them in Europe.  Don’t bother using them in Australia, the rates are too high.  The program also has an annoying 60 window for booking hotel rewards which cramps the style of those who like to book early.

IHG Rewards are a good deal if you are planning to use them at an expensive place like Bora Bora, Paris or any of the 50,000 point properties which would cost $292.50 a night if you have an Amex.  Hilton is way too expensive, at that level I would be Pricelining for a 4 or 5* hotel.  Don’t bother!

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In past years I used to get up at 3am in Brisbane to buy these and they sold out in seconds.  This year, I’ll probably wake up at my normal time to see packages going begging.

When Should You Use A Promo To Buy Miles & Points?

The holy grail is free travel by manipulating your spending or business travel paid for by your employer in such a way that you get free miles and points for your personal use.  If you are a business traveler, you are probably already doing this so this post will be more useful to non-frequent travelers who want to travel someplace they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to go.  Many of the places I have been writing about for eco-travel such as Brazil, Peru, Australia, India, the Cook Islands would be only a distant dream if not for miles and points.

Some non-frequently flying people will have better opportunities than others.  Currently people in the USA are the luckiest with all the credit card sign up bonuses and manufactured spending (using a miles/points credit card to buy gift cards that can be liquidated or used to pay the same credit card’s bill).  I have some very basic guides on this but my style is more “teaching you how to fish” rather than spoon-feeding so you need to be able to take the basics and apply them yourself and be proactive about seeking out the best sign-up bonuses.  These can change daily so always check around before getting a new credit card.  Credit card sign-up bonuses are the closest thing to free miles if you use the cards only for things you have to buy anyway and pay the bills off each month.  I suppose Facebook contests and sweepstakes would be true FREE miles but the odds of winning those are so slim.  It’s worth a try if you are active on Facebook.

Some promos such as the Daily Getaways are directed at Americans only and recent reports show that non-US credit cards have been rejected.  Last year, I was able to buy a package from Daily Getaways with an Aussie Amex but haven’t tried yet this year.  Other promos such as the 100% bonus miles when you buy miles are available to anyone.  US Airways and Avianca-Taca are famous for this type of promo.  Then there are shopping promos where you use an airline’s shopping portal to get miles or do a certain number of transactions with partners to get bonus miles.  The US Airways Grand Slam was the best by far of this sort of promo but hasn’t been seen since Sept 2011 and won’t be back because they are merging with American Airlines later this year.  2008-2011 were the golden years for people who wanted to get LOTS of cheap miles with partners if they weren’t true FREQUENT fliers.  My husband and I still have a couple trips left for next year we earned with Grand Slam from previous years.

The thing with promos are that in most cases, you aren’t getting FREE miles/points anymore.  You are paying for them at a reduced rate.  Take Daily Getaways for example.  Next week, there are point purchases available for Best Western, Choice and IHG Priority Club.

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The following week, IHG Priority Club and Wyndham points are on offer.

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So how do you know if they represent a good deal for you?

You need to have a good idea of what your future travel plans are.  What airlines can you use, what hotel chains are at the cities you will visit or transit?

Compare the cost of buying points through this promo vs other options.  Can you use a discount code (Expedia, Hotels.com) to book any hotel, not just a chain hotel for a better price?  Can you earn airline miles for your hotel booking via Pointshound?  Can you get free points from getting the hotel’s credit card or transferring points from Amex Membership Rewards (most countries) or Ultimate Rewards (USA only)?  Do you really want to stay in a chain hotel vs a local independant hotel?

Look at what the hotel chain’s reward program allows you to redeem your points for.  Would buying one of these package get you a better value on the hotel chain’s partners?  Here are the pages for the hotel chains to help you determine this, you will have to do your own math though!

Best Western

Choice

IHG (Priority Club)

Wyndham

Converting to airline miles

You will notice that most hotel chains have airlines as their partners so you can redeem hotel points for airline miles.  In past years, this has been extremely lucrative when using Daily Getaways.  This year, the promo has been so over-exposed, the prices have gone up on the point packages so they may or may not represent a good value to you.  Pull out your calculator and start doing the math.  The things you need to consider when buying airline miles in this way.

  • Is it cheaper to just buy the flight and earn miles for it?
  • Can you get a better deal on Priceline, Groupon or similar?
  • Will you be traveling within the next couple of years? (Airlines can depreciate their programs in the meanwhile)
  • Is the hotel program likely to depreciate the redemption rate before you can swap them for airline miles?
  • Is your personal situation likely to change before you have a chance to use the miles (new job, moving, health, fitness, marriage, baby, etc)?
  • Will the points or miles expire before you can use them?
  • Can you afford to outlay the cash now for a possible savings in the future?

If you read a lot of miles and points type travel blogs or forums such as Flyertalk, you will see some people praising these deals as the greatest thing since sliced bread.  For many people, these deals may be the best value, for others they may not be.   Don’t let anyone (blogger or otherwise) whip you into a competitive frenzy over this or any other promo.  They don’t know you, they only know their own situation and what is good for them.  Everyone is an individual and has their own personal circumstances so I would encourage everyone to do their own research and their own math.